News Archives

FSIS Notice on Humane Handling and Slaughter – Is it Worth the Hassle?

CowsBy Chris Young, Executive Director

This notice provides instructions to FSIS Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs), inspection program personnel (IPP) and District Veterinary Medical Specialists (DVMSs) about assessing and informing official livestock establishments whether their written systematic approach for humane handling and slaughter meets the criteria for being a robust plan or not. This notice also indicates the expected frequency for PHV and DVMS verification reviews of an existing robust systematic approach to humane handling and slaughter.
In 2004, FSIS recommended that establishments develop and implement a systematic approach for humanely handling and slaughtering livestock by effectively addressing the four aspects of a systematic approach; those are: assessment, design, evaluation and response.
The industry was told that if we developed and implemented a robust systematic approach then this would be taken into consideration along with other factors when deciding whether to issue a Notice of Suspension (NOS) or Notice of Intended Enforcement (NOIE) action. Experience tells me that this has not been the case. The over enforcement and inconsistency of enforcement of humane handling and slaughter regulations over the last few years has been an ongoing issue for processors. This issue will be at the forefront of AAMP’s efforts in Washington in 2017 once the dust settles on the transition of a new administration. The enforcement of humane handling has been all over the spectrum, and not just between districts, but also within districts. It appears that there are different sets of rules depending on where you are in the country. One district may receive an NOIE and under the same set of circumstances may receive a Notice of Suspension in another district.
If having a robust humane handling program is recommended and not a requirement, and there does not appear to be any difference in the level of enforcement between those who have and those who don’t, why would you open yourself up to the increased scrutiny of this notice? Here is what will be required of you if you choose to have a robust plan. When the establishment management wants to implement an animal-handling program it believes to be a robust systematic approach, it is to request an FSIS review. Once an establishment has a program in place, the associated plan, corrective actions and records produced will be subject to monthly verification reviews by PHVs. DVMSs are to evaluate establishments’ robust systematic approach plans during their Humane Handling Verification visits, which are performed every 12-18 months.
AAMP and its members are fully supportive of humane handling and slaughter regulations. We support having a robust plan in place to make sure we are paying attention to the details and handling animals in our facilities correctly. My opposition to it is that FSIS should get their own house in order and have a clear set of rules and a decision tree in place so that inspectors and DVM’s are responding to incidents in the same way. If a plant has a plan in place and there is a mis-stun and they follow their plan with a follow up stun, then there should be no action taken by FSIS. FSIS cannot continue to enforce from a zero tolerance point of view; that is not reality and they know that, which is why they are requiring a robust plan.
I trust all of our members will continue to do the right thing and handle the animals in their facilities to the best of their ability to ensure a safe, humane kill. A formal response will be sent to Washington explaining AAMP’s position on this and it will be followed by a visit.

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Quarles Named Keynote Speaker for AAMP Convention


Ryan F. Quarles has been selected as the keynote speaker for the 2017 AAMP Convention in Lexington, Kentucky, July 20-22. 

Ryan grew up on his family’s farm in Scott County, coming from a family that has lived in central Kentucky for over 200 years. Ryan completed three undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees in just four years at the University of Kentucky, graduating in 2006.

In 2008, Harvard University awarded Ryan a full scholarship with the Zuckerman Fellows Program, which enabled him to continue his studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Law School.

In 2009, he graduated from Harvard with a Master’s degree in higher education before moving back to Kentucky to finish his last year of law school. Ryan was elected to the Kentucky General Assembly in 2010, representing Scott, Owen, and Fayette counties.

Ryan served as vice-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and served on the Agriculture and Small Business Committee, the Tobacco Master Settlement Oversight Committee, and the Banking and Insurance Committee.

In 2015, Ryan was elected Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture. At 33, Commissioner Quarles is currently the youngest statewide elected official in the United States.

AAMP Launches New Member Benefit: Video Training Series

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We are pleased to announce the first series of free training videos, available exclusively as a member-only benefit. These videos are designed to provide staff training on various topics in the meat industry. The first topics include: Cleaning and Sanitation; and Personal Hygiene and Good Manufacturing Practices.

Each training series includes:
  • Video Download
  • 10 Question Quiz (True or False/Multiple Choice)
  • Quiz Answer Key
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Instructions to view the videos in multiple languages.
To access the training videos, visit the ‘Member-Only’ section of the AAMP website and look for the “Video Training” tab at the top of the page. If you have any questions about how to access the information, please contact the AAMP office at 717-367-1168.

Instructions to access:

Training Video Access

Hering Joins FAPC Board

Published: 12/27/2016
Author: Lisa M. Keefe
Article link: (Login Required)

Hering_Erica_PRErica Hering, in 2015 the first female chosen to lead the American Association of Meat Processors, has joined the advisory board of Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center (FAPC).

Appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, Hering, co-owner and corporate fiscal officer of Ralph’s Packing Co., will be one of 16 board members to help oversee the center’s mission and vision.

“FAPC has such a strong and prominent reputation in Oklahoma and nationwide, and I feel the IAC has been a primary influence on the direction of FAPC over the years. There are many changes and challenges coming to our industry, and I’m very excited to be a part of such a diverse and knowledgeable committee, which will help guide FAPC through these changes,” Hering said, in a news release about her board appointment.

Hering is a third-generation leader in the family business, serving Perkins and surrounding communities since the 1950s. Ralph’s Packing Co. is a complete meat-processing company, specializing in high-quality smoked and fresh-meat products.

In addition to growing up working in the family’s small meat plant, Hering also has served on the board of directors of state and national meat-processing associations.

“Through all of my personal experience with my family’s meat plant, as well as my experience on national and regional meat boards, I feel I bring a unique perspective of the small-to-medium sizes meat-processing facilities,” she said.

FAPC has had a strong relationship with Ralph’s Packing Co. since the center’s inception in 1997. The company has benefited from several FAPC services throughout the past 20 years, including nutritional labeling, custom processing, food safety seminars, social media training and product testing.

“Ralph’s Packing Co. has been transformed into a contemporary specialty meats business under the able leadership of Ms. Hering,” said FAPC Director Roy Escoubas, in the release. “Her experience in the family business and leadership with multiple meat-processing organizations make her an excellent resource to the committee.”

AAMP and AMSA Announce the 2017 PORK 101 Courses

AMSAChampaign, IL, December 20, 2016 – The American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) and the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) are excited to announce that the 2017 PORK 101 courses will be held May 23-25 at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and October 23-25 at Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa. PORK 101 is hosted by AMSA in cooperation with the National Pork Board and is sponsored by Merck Animal Health.

Attendees will experience firsthand the swine industry from live animal production through finished pork products. The course concludes with the attendees preparing and sampling products from pork carcasses including pumped loins, bacon, hams and sausage.

These attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the value differences in swine, pork carcasses, pork primals and processed pork products from meat science faculty and AMSA members at each university.

The program features:

  • General Production Practices
  • Hog Handling
  • Grading and Live Hog Evaluation
  • Lean Value Pricing
  • Quality Management at Slaughter
  • Hands-On Pork Slaughter
  • Measuring Carcass Quality and Composition
  • Hands-On Pork Carcass Fabrication
  • Processing Technologies and Hands-On Lab
  • Retail and Consumer Hot Topics

Past attendees of the AMSA PORK 101 Course can attest to the importance of attending.

  • I can speak to the entire process of how pork is harvested now. Understanding the primals and the bone-in/boneless cuts is very important in my role.
  • This course provides an excellent foundation for anyone and all people working in the pork industry.
  • Great course! I felt like the hands-on cutting was a great learning tool where I grew more familiar with each of the cuts of pork.

PORK 101 is co-sponsored by the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), North American Meat Institute Foundation (NAMIF) and the Southwest Meat Association (SMA). Registration for AAMP and other partnering organizations is $825. Non-member registration is $975.

For more information or questions regarding PORK 101 please visit: or contact Deidrea Mabry.

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AMSA fosters community and professional development among individuals who create and apply science to efficiently provide safe and high quality meat (defined as red meat (beef, pork and lamb), poultry, fish/seafood and meat from other managed species).